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Trans-European freight corridor drives rail transformation


EUREKA project E! 2727 POLCORRIDOR has been selected as the ‘backbone’ trans-European freight transport corridor to explore interoperability in the EU Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) REORIENT project. REORIENT is assessing the process of transforming European railways from nationally fragmented into internationally integrated systems to encourage a move away from total dependence on road transport.

Started in 2002, the EUREKA project set out to deliver Europe’s most advanced transport corridor, from the Nordic countries to the Balkans, to meet the rapid growth in north-south freight (over 20% in the last five years). POLCORRIDOR uses the latest technology for freight traffic management, intermodal infrastructures and information system architecture.

There are three parts: sea-land connections from Sweden, Finland and Norway to intermodal hubs in Poland; a regularly scheduled block train – the Blue Shuttle – linking Szczecin/Swinoujscie and Gdansk in Poland with Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest; and existing land connections to destinations in most of south and southeastern Europe.

Neutralising barriers

The FP6 sustainable surface transport REORIENT project will use POLCORRIDOR to explore interoperability in countries located along its routes. REORIENT will assess the target countries’ political and administrative structures for interoperability implementation and identify barriers. It will then propose measures designed to remove, circumvent and/or neutralise such barriers.

Mutually beneficial collaboration between these projects illustrates the effectiveness of good co-operation and coherence between EUREKA and EU projects in supporting the competitiveness and innovative development of European industry. By incorporating POLCORRIDOR into REORIENT, the EU policy of balancing the modal split between road and rail freight transport will be supported on an even larger scale.

Together these projects will create the groundwork for enhancing the competitive standing of rail and intermodal freight services in Europe. The overall objective is to encourage the transfer of more freight volume from single-mode road haulage and achieve an eventual improvement in socio-environmental conditions.

More information regarding the POLCORRIDOR or REORIENT projects: Dr Johanna Ludvigsen, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway, email:, phone: +47 22 57 38 44.

Editorial backgrounder:

Polcorridor offers faster, cheaper and more secure transport

The EUREKA project is establishing a comprehensive feeder network to supply freight by lorry, train and ferry to logistical centres. From there, the freight can be transferred to the Blue Shuttle Train, which can carry it faster, cheaper and more securely than current alternatives. The POLCORRIDOR will benefit destinations in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, northern Italy and the entire Balkan region including northern Greece.

By transporting freight quickly and cost-efficiently across borders, the Blue Shuttle Train offers a competitive advantage. The time required for border crossings is minimised, as freight is moved on an environmentally friendly block train system without the need for shunting. The shuttle emphasises frequency and punctuality, as well as a high capacity and advanced information systems. This trans-European freight network will open new markets and increase trade along the corridor in northern, central and eastern Europe.

Dr Johanna Ludvigsen, Chief Research Officer at Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics, initiated the project in response to traffic bottlenecks and increasing traffic fees in western Europe. This contrasted with the availability of underused high-quality rail infrastructures just a few hundred kilometres to the east.

“The freight supply network goes via countries on the brink of substantial economic development, such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Some people may say that it is too early for such a corridor. I believe we must be ready with a functional infrastructure to promote economic growth and the ensuing increase in freight traffic that is certain to continue in these eastern European economies,” says Dr Ludvigsen.

Paul McCallum | alfa
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